iNaturalist observation of the month: Mountain lion

By Patricia Simpson

It’s official. There’s a big cat at Mission Trails — a mountain lion (puma concolor ssp. couguar).

Of course, we all know that, but this is the first visual documentation on iNaturalist for our location, thanks to dash-cam video footage captured on March 29. The feline was spotted off Cowles Mountain running across Navajo Road and two photos of the cat were posted by user mike275 at

If you have attended the great mountain lion lecture by our fellow trail guide Don Endicott, you will already know these stellar mammals are among the most discreet. Despite their large size, they are seldom seen. They are usually aware of our presence long before we can detect them and are masters at hiding and camouflage.

iNaturalist has a fair number of Mountain Lion observations in California (388 to be exact), but 98.5 percent of them are trail-cam photos or scat/track photos. People rarely see the felines and when they do, they probably are not too preoccupied with grabbing their camera or phone to record the occasion. In the presence of such a great predator, I’d imagine that once the witness is assured his or her heart is still in his chest, self-preservation becomes the most pressing concern.

For a reminder of what to do if you encounter a mountain lion, visit

— Patricia Simpson is a trail guide at Mission Trails regional Park.

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